Karla's Reviews > Charity Child

Charity Child by Sara Seale
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's review
Oct 05, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: harlequin, contemporary-romance, big-misunderstandings, big-age-difference, older-man-younger-woman, orphans-and-gamins, harlequin-1950s, 4-and-a-half-stars, harley-hell-2010, dead-tree
Read from November 25 to 27, 2010 , read count: 1

The Girl: Charity Child, 19-year old orphan who finds work where she can and has "gamin" written all over her. She's soft-spoken, innocent, and accepts her lot - whatever it might be.

The Guy: Marc Gentle, barrister extraordinaire and tolerant nephew of a retired prima donna from the 1910s, Mrs. Clara Stubbs, who went by the stage name of Astrea. Marc is 36, tall and elegant, with a superior attitude like all Harlequin heroes.

The Setup: Astrea sees Charity playing a piano in a music shop and takes a fancy to her as a "spiritual daughter." The old bag has had a succession of them, including Roma - an old flame of Marc's who went jaunting off to America to chase a millionaire 7 years ago. Charity quickly grows fond of the temperamental old diva, reads her the horoscopes and listens to her prate on about astrology and compatibility signs. Marc is suspicious of Charity, naturally, since all the other live-in "spiritual daughters" have taken advantage of his flighty aunt. Matters aren't helped when an impoverished Roma reappears and causes no end of trouble.

The Good Stuff: Call me old-fashioned, but I've developed a real fondness for these earlier Harleys and prefer them by far over the newer ones. This story was simple, but not stupid - while some of the more recent ones I've read (1990s and later) have had ample portions of both.

I really enjoyed this one from beginning to end. The heroine was sympathetic, her situation was believable, and the way she handled herself was plausible. Astrea was aggravating, but she reminded me a lot of a Golden Age of Hollywood character actress like Billie Burke - harmless, but you still wanted to punch her to shut her up.

This didn't bug me, but it might hit someone else's squick button: Charity likens Marc to her dad throughout most of the story until the very end when she assures him that she doesn't think of him like that anymore. It did have me raising an eyebrow now and then, but not enough to make me dislike it. With a 16-17 year age difference between them, Charity pushed her feelings for him into something she felt was achievable.

My Gripes: Of course, with the nasty "other woman" entering the story and spreading trouble, there's going to be misunderstandings. And it was idiotic for both Marc and Charity to believe Roma's lies about the other when they both knew that she was an unscrupulous gold digger who is eager to get Astrea's will changed in her favor and snag Marc for a second time.

Still, not enough to bring the whole story down a star. This was a sweet, nostalgic story that had a nice balance of sugar and vinegar. Sara Seale, like Mary Burchell, began writing in the 30s and so there is a tone of a distant era. Simplistic, but well-written. I, for one, like it. 4.5 stars.
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Reading Progress

11/25/2010 page 1
1.0% "The 13th Harley of Harley Hell Month...my lucky number, so fingers crossed it'll be a good one."
11/25/2010 page 24
13.0% "I have a feeling I'm going to like Astrea. She's a dotty Luisa Tetrazzini. IOW, Luisa Tetrazzini. :D"
11/26/2010 page 41
22.0% ""She is a Gemini, and they are notoriously uncertain and superficial and lazy at their lowest level." --Hey, I resemble that remark! :D" 1 comment
11/26/2010 page 98
52.0% "The "other woman" has entered the picture and she's not nice, as always."

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Karla Zosia wrote: "'Charity' and 'Marc Gentle'?! Alrighty. You find the best books with the best covers. I'm going to have to start tracking down more of these!"

And Marc does make fun of both their names. :P He's a right mocky guy.

message 2: by Kerrie (new)

Kerrie "I, for one, like it."

So there. :P

Nice way to finish off Harley Hell Month!!! Time to revisit North and South and see if it's as good as we remembered. It's been since... what? 7th grade?

message 3: by Tutti (new)

Tutti Dolci Nice review, Karla! Would you believe that I'm a Harlequin virgin? I might need some Harley recs sent my way soon. :)

And oooh, North and South? I think I might want to read that again. It's been...uh...let's just say it's been a long time.

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